A record-breaking month of rooftop installations and a flood of large-scale solar farms could almost double Australia’s solar power capacity in a single year, industry analysts say. A massive solar energy boom is being predicted for 2018, after an unprecedented number of industrial solar farms were approved by the New South Wales and Queensland governments last year. Last month also became the biggest January on record for rooftop installations, according to the renewables website and industry analysts SunWiz.
With 111MW of new panels, it saw a 69% rise compared with the same month last year and became one of the top five months ever – largely driven by low installation costs and a boost in commercial uptake. At the same time, nearly 30 new industrial solar farms are scheduled to come on line.
NSW approved 10 solar farm projects last year – twice as many as the year before – and has approved another in 2018. Queensland currently has 18 large-scale projects under construction, which is the most in the country. The new farms could be operational within the year, according to John Grimes, the chief executive of the Clean Energy Council.
“These solar farms can be built within a matter of weeks,” he said. “They’re really quick and simple.”
Together, the new large-scale projects could add between 2.5GW and 3.5GW to the national grid and rooftop installations could add another 1.3GW, according to the Smart Energy Council’s estimates. This would nearly double the nation’s solar energy capacity, currently 7GW, in a single year.